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better business

By Diogenes (bio - articles ) | Jan 09, 2008

Imagine that you own a business. Let's say you manufacture widgets.

It's a legal business. You pay your employees a good wage. You pay your taxes; you don't bother the neighbors. And you make a nice profit. Good for you!

Now let's suppose that the government raids the plants of some other widget manufacturers in a nearby city, and makes a series of arrests. It seems that these plants were using substandard materials, and putting out widgets that would endanger the lives of consumers.

Nasty stuff. How do you respond?

  • Option #1:You denounce the illegal activities, and praise the police for upholding legal standards. After all you want to protect the reputation of the widget industry. And (c'mon, let's be honest) the arrests give you an opportunity to stick it to your competitors and do some free advertising, saying that your widgets conforms to the highest standards of manufacturing safety.
  • Option #2: You denounce the police for their crackdown on manufacturing standards. You complain that the government is being intrusive. You announce a manufacturing stoppage to protest the crackdown. You speak about the "chilling effect" of regulations, and hint that consumers should worry that soon they won't be able to get any widgets at all.

You're the boss; the choice is yours. But as a potential widget buyer, let me offer you just this one thought: If you choose Option #1, I'll be impressed; I'll think you're a stand-up businessman in a troubled industry. If you choose Option #2, I'll suspect that you're worried because you, too, have been bending the rules, and maybe the entire widget industry should be shut down.

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2008 10:48 PM ET USA

    Ah, the "widget" industry - always Putting People before Profit (TM).

  • Posted by: - Jan. 10, 2008 6:19 AM ET USA

    Let's hope and pray that their temporary retirement from contract murder is so pleasant and gratifying that they extend it into perpetuity.

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